By Emil Danielyan
A key committee of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) has expressed concern at the Armenian government’s failure so far to launch an independent inquiry into the deadly post-election violence in Yerevan and release arrested opposition members.
In a statement issued late Wednesday, the Monitoring Committee said the government’s stated efforts to meet these and other demands contained in a recent PACE resolution have produced “only a few tangible results.”
The statement followed a committee meeting held in Ukraine’s capital Kiev earlier this week. Yerevan’s compliance with the resolution adopted on April 17 was high on its agenda.
The Armenian authorities say they are doing their best to implement PACE recommendations on how to ease the post-election tensions in the country. They have moved to enact legal amendments that will soften serious restrictions on freedom of assembly imposed following the March 1 clashes between riot troops and supporters of opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian. They have also pledged to take further measures to tackle chronic electoral fraud and give more rights to the opposition minority in the Armenian parliament.
The Monitoring Committee welcomed these initiatives, saying that they will facilitate dialogue between the government camp and the opposition. “It expresses the hope that those opposition leaders who to date have been reluctant to participate in this dialogue will now consider joining,” said its statement.
“That said, the committee is seriously concerned about the lack of any noticeable progress on the opening of an independent and credible enquiry,” added the statement. It said an hoc parliament commission which the Armenian parliament plans to form for that purpose will lack credibility unless it comprises representatives of the Ter-Petrosian-led opposition, civil society and international experts.
The Monitoring Committee also found “no progress” in the authorities’ compliance with the PACE demand for the “the urgent release of the persons detained on seemingly artificial and politically motivated charges.”
Only a handful of prominent oppositionists arrested in the wake of the February 19 presidential election have been released from jail so far. Dozens of others remain under arrest on coup charges. Petrosian and his aides say the police continue to harass and detain his supporters across Armenia.
“The committee is convinced that, although time is limited, it is still possible for the Armenian authorities to address the requirements of the Assembly in time for the visit of the co-rapporteurs of the committee in the week before the June part-session,” said the statement.